Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp said it is gearing up to spend 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion) on acquisitions over the next four years, bolstered by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses.
Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn’t have specific acquisition targets in mind for now. But he said the firm will spend around 200 billion yen on M&A in the fiscal year that kicks off in April alone, and pledged to improve on Panasonic’s patchy track record on big deals.
“With strategic investments, if there’s an opportunity to accelerate growth, you need funds. That’s the idea behind the 1 trillion yen figure,” he said. Tsuga has spearheaded a radical restructuring at the Osaka-based company that has made it one of the strongest turnaround stories in Japan’s embattled technology sector.
Tsuga previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.
The firm said on Thursday it’s targeting operating profit of 430 billion yen in the next fiscal year, up nearly 25 percent from the 350 billion yen it expects for the year ending March 31.
Panasonic’s earnings have been bolstered by moving faster than peers like Sony Corp and Sharp Corp to overhaul business models squeezed by competition from cheaper Asian rivals and caught flat-footed in a smartphone race led by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics. Out has gone reliance on mass consumer goods like TVs and smartphones, and in has come a focus on areas like automotive technology and energy-efficient home appliances.
Tsuga also sought to ease concerns that an expensive acquisition could set back its finances, which took years to recover from the deal agreed in 2008 to buy cross-town rival Sanyo for a sum equal to about $9 billion at the time.
MSI recently announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.
USB 3.1 can shuffle data between a host device and peripheral at 10Gbps, which is two times faster than USB 3.0. USB 3.1 is also generating excitement for the reversible Type-C cable, which is the same on both ends so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.
The motherboards with USB 3.1 technology are targeted at high-end desktops. Some enthusiasts like gamers seek the latest and greatest technologies and build desktops with motherboards sold by MSI, Asus and Gigabyte. Many of the new desktop motherboards announced have the Type-C port interface, which is also in recently announced laptops from Apple and Google.
New technologies like USB 3.1 usually first appear in high-end laptops and desktops, then make their way down to low-priced PCs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst of Mercury Research.
PC makers are expected to start putting USB 3.1 ports in more laptops and desktops starting later this year.
Buried in AMD’s shareholders’ report, there was a some suprising detail about the outfit’s first ARM 64-bit server SoCs.
For those who came in late, they are supposed to be going on sale in the first half of 2015.
We know that the ARM Cortex-A57 architecture based SoC has been codenamed ‘Hierofalcon.’
AMD started sampling these Embedded R-series chips last year and is aiming to release the chipset in the first half of this year for embedded data center applications, communications infrastructure, and industrial solutions.
But it looks like the Hierofalcon SoC will include eight Cortex-A57 cores with 4MB L2 cache and will be manufactured on a 28nm process. It will support two 64-bit DDR3/4 memory channels with ECC up to 1866MHz and up to 128GB per CPU. Connectivity options will include two 10GbE KR, 8x SATA 3 6Gb/s, 8 lanes PCIe Gen 3, SPI, UART, and I2C interfaces. The chip will have a TDP between 15 to 30W.
The SOC ranges between a TDP of 15 – 30 W. The highly integrated SoC includes 10 Gb KR Ethernet and PCI-Express Gen 3 for high-speed network connectivity, making it ideal for control plane applications. The chip also features a dedicated security processor which enables AMD’s TrustZone technology for enhanced security. There’s also a dedicated cryptographic security co-processor on-board, aligning to the increased need for networked, secure systems.
Soon after Hierofalcon is out, AMD will be launching the SkyBridge platform that will feature interchangeable 64-bit ARM and x86 processors. Later in 2016, the company will be launching the K12 chip, its custom high performance 64-bit ARM core.
By making Parse available for IoT, Facebook hopes to strengthen its ties to a wider group of developers in a growing industry via three new software development kits aimed specifically at IoT, unveiled Wednesday at the company’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco.
The tools are aimed at making it easier for outside developers to build apps that interface with Internet-connected devices. Garage door manufacturer Chamberlain, for example, uses Parse for its app to let people open and lock their garage door from their smartphones.
Or, hypothetically, the maker of a smart gardening device could use Parse to incorporate notifications into their app to remind the user to water their plants, said Ilya Sukhar, CEO of Parse, during a keynote talk at F8.
Facebook bought Parse in 2013, putting itself in the business of selling application development tools. Parse provides a hosted back-end infrastructure to help third party developers build their apps. Over 400,000 developers have built apps with Parse, Sukhar said on Wednesday.
Parse’s new SDKs are available on GitHub as well as on Parse’s site.
The vague announcement raised the question of whether Verizon is simply trying to show its competitive value against Google and AT&T, which have both announced fiber Internet services in a number of cities.
“I think Verizon is trying to play catch up to the others without saying it that way,” said independent analyst Jeff Kagan. “The only question I still have is will Verizon be a real competitor or is this mostly just talk to cover their butts in the rapidly changing marketplace?”
What Verizon did disclose in a news release was that it will be modernizing undisclosed portions of its so-called 100G (for 100 Gbps) metro optical network using packet-optimized networking gear from Ciena and Cisco. Testing and deployment of the Ciena 6500 optical switch and Cisco’s Network Covergence System will happen this year, with plans to go live in 2016. /
“We are not announcing specific geographies at this time,” Verizon spokeswoman Lynn Staggs said in an email. She said the new equipment is not directly related to fiber connections to the premises of homes or businesses. By comparison, both Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower are designed with 1 Gbps connections to homes, schools and businesses in mind.
Staggs said Verizon is upgrading connectivity between central Verizon offices and the backbone network. On top of that service, there is generally an “access” network for the last mile to connect the customer and the metro network, she added.
No matter how Verizon describes the ultimate purpose of its metro network, it is clear to analysts and others that Verizon’s metro upgrades could be used to prepare for last-mile fiber connections to businesses, schools and even homes to take on Google and AT&T directly. “Deploying a new coherent, optimized and highly scalable metro network means Verizon stays ahead of the growth trajectory while providing an even more robust network infrastructure for future demand,” said Lee Hicks, vice president of Verizon network planning, in a statement.
PC and printer makers have struggled in the recent past as companies reduced printing to cut costs and consumers shifted to mobile devices from PCs.
Hewlett-Packard Co plans to separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations this year.
Xerox Corp has also increasingly focused on IT services to make up for the falling sales of its copiers and printers.
Lexmark divested its inkjet printer business in 2013 and has since boosted its enterprise software business.
The Kofax deal will help the company’s Perceptive Software business achieve its revenue target of $500 million in 2016, Lexmark said.
The business makes software to scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images and provides services to banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. It contributed about 8 percent to Lexmark’s revenue in 2014 and has grown at more than 30 percent in the past two years.
Kofax provides data services to the financial, insurance and healthcare companies such as Citigroup Inc, Metlife Inc and Humana Inc.
Lexmark said it expects the deal to “significantly” expand operating margins in its enterprise software business, which would now be worth about $700 million. It will also add about 10 cents per share to the company’s adjusted profit in 2015.
Facebook’s Messenger app mostly been used for keeping in touch with friends. Now people can also use it to send each other money. In the future, it could become a platform which other apps could use, if recent rumors prove true.
This Wednesday and Thursday at its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook will show off new tools to help third-party developers build apps, deploy them on Facebook and monetize them through Facebook advertising.
Among those tools might be a new service for developers to publish content or features of their own inside Messenger, according to a TechCrunch article. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.
Such a service could make Messenger more useful, if the right developers sign on. Search features, photo tools or travel functions could be incorporated into Messenger and improve users’ chats around events or activities.
However, Messenger already lets users exchange money, and it also handles voice calls. Layer on more services and Messenger could become bloated and inconvenient to use.
In other words, making Messenger a platform would be a gamble.
A more versatile Messenger could generate new user data Facebook could leverage for advertising, helping it counter a user growth slowdown in recent quarters. It could also boost Facebook’s perennial efforts to increase participants in its developer platform and the number of users of its third-party apps.
Even if Facebook doesn’t turn Messenger into a platform at F8, it will likely do so in the future, said John Jackson, an IDC analyst focused on mobile business strategies. For the same reasons Facebook might turn Messenger into a platform, it could do the same for other apps like WhatsApp or Instagram, he said.
“The objective is to enrich and multiply the nature of interactions on the platform,” providing valuable data along the way, he said.
Cisco has revealed details of a new point of sale (PoS) attack that could part firms from money and users from personal data.
The threat has been called PoSeidon by the Cisco team and comes at a time when eyes are on security breaches at firms like Target.
Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a new threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.
Credit card numbers and keylogger data is sent to an exfiltration server, while the mechanism is able to update itself and presumably evade some detection.
Cisco’s advice is for the industry to keep itself in order and network admins to keep systems up to date.
“PoSeidon is another malware targeting PoS systems that demonstrates the sophisticated techniques and approaches of malware authors. Attackers will continue to target PoS systems and employ various obfuscation techniques in an attempt to avoid detection,” said the firm.
“As long as PoS attacks continue to provide returns, attackers will continue to invest in innovation and development of new malware families. Network administrators will need to remain vigilant and adhere to industry best practices to ensure coverage and protection against advancing malware threats.”
The security industry agrees that PoS malware is a cash cow for cyber thieves, highlighting the importance of vigilance and keeping systems up to date.
“PoS malware has been extremely productive for criminals in the last few years, and there’s little reason to expect that will change anytime soon,” said Tim Erlin, director of product management at Tripwire.
“It’s no surprise that, as the information security industry updates tools to detect this malicious software, the authors will continue to adjust and innovate to avoid detection.
“Standards like the PCI Data Security Standard can only lay the groundwork for protecting retailers and consumers from these threats. A standard like PCI can specify a requirement for malware protection, but any specific techniques included may become obsolete as malware evolves.
“Monitoring for new files and changes to files can detect when malware installs itself on a system, as PoSeidon does.”
Online video platform Vessel officially debuted its paid subscription service on Tuesday, offering programming at least three days before other websites in a bid to reshape an industry dominated by free content on Google Inc’s YouTube.
Vessel, which costs viewers $3 a month, was founded by former Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom. They aim to create an early window for a selection of web video, similar to the way movies are released in theaters before they arrive on cable TV or the Internet.
“Early access is very valuable,” Kilar said in an interview. “There are a lot of consumers who would love to see something early.”
More than 130 creators will provide early access to content on Vessel. After the exclusive period ends, videos can go to YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or other free, ad-supported sites, and are free on Vessel.
YouTube stars such as Ingrid Nilsen, Rhett & Link and Shane Dawson are among creators whose videos will make their debut on Vessel. Other programming comes from online networks such as food-oriented Tastemade and celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.
Video creators on Vessel keep 70 percent of ad revenue, compared with 55 percent that is typical on YouTube, plus 60 percent of Vessel subscription revenue.
With those incentives, the new service will be an easier sell to creators than offering viewers who are used to watching videos for free, said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.
“Vessel must rely on content creators’ popularity and self-marketing to entice their loyal viewers into paying a monthly fee,” he said.
The service is free for one year for viewers who sign up within the first three days.
It is unlikely YouTube will lose significant revenue from a migration to Vessel, Sappington said. YouTube made its debut a decade ago and has more than 1 billion users.
On-body detection uses the accelerometer in the phone to detect when it’s being held or carried. If enabled, the feature requires a passcode the first time the phone is accessed but then keeps the device unlocked until it is placed down.
That means, for example, that users walking down the street won’t have to unlock the phone every time they take their phones out of their pockets.
The feature wasn’t widely announced by Google, but it began operating in some phones on Friday.
Like the other elements of smart lock, it should be used with caution as it can’t detect who is carrying the phone.
“If you unlock your device and hand it to someone else, your device also stays unlocked as long as the other person continues to hold or carry it,” reads a message displayed on phones with the new feature.
The smart lock feature was introduced with Android 5.0 KitKat and allows users to set zones around trusted places, such as a home or office, and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, such as a computer or car radio. When the phone is in those zones it will remain unlocked once it’s been unlocked the first time.
It can also recognize faces and remain unlocked when it sees a trusted face.
The space agency is using glasses from Osterhout Design Group (ODG), a San Francisco-based company that develops wearables for enterprises and government use. NASA engineers and astronauts are set to test the company’s smart glasses, which are equipped with augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. The glasses are being tested using NASA applications and software.
“The intended purpose and usefulness of glasses like this are unlimited,” said Jay Bolden, a NASA spokesman, in an email to Computerworld. “Advanced glasses could aid in navigation, where cockpit displays are broadcast on the goggles in much the same way fighter pilot heads up displays operate today.”
Bolden also noted that astronauts on a journey to an asteroid or Mars could use the smart glasses to access chart, map and technical information, instead of having to carry many pounds of technical journals and papers with them.
“For a two-hour flight on a 737 from Cleveland to Dallas, each pilot carries 15 pounds of manuals and that weight isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme,” he noted. “However, for a multiple-week mission to an asteroid or the moon, or a multi-year mission to Mars, every pound saved means additional life-critical supplies — food, water, oxygen, or fuel — can be shipped in their place.”
The smart glasses also could give more information to NASA engineers and scientists working on Earth.
“Real time applications also include the ability for ground support teams to see first hand what astronauts discover and video,” Bolden said. “Instead of bringing a 50-pound boulder back for ground analysis, the astronaut can use glasses to scan, measure and catalog where it was found and then chip off a 5-pound sample for ground analysis.”
MediaTek became the first chipmaker to publicly demo a SoC based on ARM’s latest Cortex-A72 CPU core, but the company’s upcoming chip still relies on the old 28nm manufacturing process.
We had a chance to see the upcoming MT8173 in action at the Mobile World Congress a couple of weeks ago.
The next step is to bring the new Cortex-A72 core to a new node and into mobiles. This is what MediaTek is planning to do by the end of the year.
Cortex-A72 smartphone parts coming in Q4
It should be noted that MediaTek’s 8000-series parts are designed for tablets, and the MT8173 is no exception. However, the new core will make its way to smartphone SoCs later this year, as part of the MT679x series.
According to Digitimes Research, MediaTek’s upcoming MT679x chips will utilize a combination of Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 cores. It is unclear whether MediaTek will use the planar 20nm node or 16nm FinFET for the new part.
By the looks of it, this chip will replace 32-bit MT6595, which is MediaTek’s most successful high performance part yet, with a few relatively big design wins, including Alcatel, Meizu, Lenovo and Zopo. The new chip will also supplement, and possibly replace the recently introduced MT6795, a 64-bit Cortex-A53/Cortex-A72 part used in the HTC Desire 826.
More questions than answers
Digitimes also claims the MT679x Cortex-A72 parts may be the first MediaTek products to benefit from AMD technology, but details are scarce. We can’t say whether or not the part will use AMD GPU technology, or some HSA voodoo magic. Earlier this month we learned that MediaTek is working with AMD and the latest report appears to confirm our scoop.
The other big question is the node. The chip should launch toward the end of the year, so we probably won’t see any devices prior to Q1 2016. While 28nm is still alive and kicking, by 2016 it will be off the table, at least in this market segment. Previous MediaTek roadmap leaks suggested that the company would transition to 20nm on select parts by the end of the year.
However, we are not entirely sure 20nm will cut it for high-end parts in 2016. Huawei has already moved to 16nm with its latest Kirin 930 SoC, Samsung stunned the world with the 14nm Exynos 7420, and Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 will be a FinFET part as well.
It is obvious that TSMC’s and Samsung’s 20nm nodes will not be used on most, if not all, high-end SoCs next year. With that in mind, it would be logical to expect MediaTek to use a FinFET node as well. On the other hand, depending on the cost, 20nm could still make sense for MediaTek – provided it ends up significantly cheaper than FinFET. While a 20nm chip wouldn’t deliver the same level of power efficiency and performance, with the right price it could find its way to more affordable mid-range devices, or flagships designed by smaller, value-oriented brands (especially those focusing on Chinese and Indian markets).
Target is reportedly close to paying out $10m to settle a class-action case that was filed after it was hacked and stripped of tens of millions of peoples’ details.
Target was smacked by hackers in 2013 in a massive cyber-thwack on its stores and servers that put some 70 million people’s personal information in harm’s way.
The hack has had massive repercussions. People are losing faith in industry and its ability to store their personal data, and the Target incident is a very good example of why people are right to worry.
As well as tarnishing Target’s reputation, the attack also led to a $162m gap in its financial spreadsheets.
The firm apologized to its punters when it revealed the hack, and chairman, CEO and president Gregg Steinhafel said he was sorry that they have had to “endure” such a thing
Now, according to reports, Target is willing to fork out another $10m to put things right, offering the money as a proposed settlement in one of several class-action lawsuits the company is facing. If accepted, the settlement could see affected parties awarded some $10,000 for their troubles.
We have asked Target to either confirm or comment on this, and are waiting for a response. For now we have an official statement at Reuters to turn to. There we see Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder confirming that something is happening but not mentioning the 10 and six zeroes.
“We are pleased to see the process moving forward and look forward to its resolution,” she said.
Not available to comment, not that we asked, will be the firm’s CIO at the time of the hack. Thirty-year Target veteran Beth Jacob left her role in the aftermath of the attack, and a replacement was immediately sought.
“To ensure that Target is well positioned following the data breach we suffered last year, we are undertaking an overhaul of our information security and compliance structure and practices at Target,” said Steinhafel then.
“As a first step in this effort, Target will be conducting an external search for an interim CIO who can help guide Target through this transformation.”
“Transformational change” pro Bob DeRodes took on the role in May last year and immediately began saying the right things.
“I look forward to helping shape information technology and data security at Target in the days and months ahead,” he said.
“It is clear to me that Target is an organization that is committed to doing whatever it takes to do right by their guests.”
We would ask Steinhafel for his verdict on DeRodes so far and the $10m settlement, but would you believe it, he’s not at Target anymore either having left in the summer last year with a reported $61m golden parachute.
Pascal is Nvidia’s next generation architecture and it is coming after Maxwell of course. The company says it will launch next year, but details are still sketchy.
According Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang, it is coming with Mixed Precision and this is the new architecture that will succeed Maxwell. Nvidia claims that the new GPU core has its own architectural benefits.
3D memory or High Bandwidth Memory (HBM), is a big thing and Jen Hsun Huang claims 32GB is possible with the new architecture, compared to 12GB on the new Maxwell-based Titan X. This is a staggering increase from the current standard of 4GB per card, to 12GB with Titan, and probably up to 32GB with Pascal. NV Link should enable a very fast interconnect that has 5 times the performance of PCI Express, which we all use right now. More memory and more bandwidth are obviously needed for 4K/UHD gaming.
Huang also shared some very rough estimates, including Convolution Compute performance, will be four times faster with FP16 precision in mixed precision mode. The 3D memory offers a six-fold increase in GPU to memory bandwidth.
Convolution and bandwidth at the front, and bandwidth to convolution at the back of the GPU, should get be five times faster than on Maxwell cards. It is complex fuzzy logic that is hard to explain with so few details shared by Nvidia about the Pascal architecture.
The width update interconnect with NV Link should get you a twofold performance increase and when you when you multiply these two numbers, Nvidia ends up with a comes to 10x compute performance increase compared to Maxwell, at least in what Nvidia CEO calls the “CEO bench”.
He warned the audience that this is a very rough estimate. This 10X number mainly targets deep learning, as it will be able to teach the deep learning network ten times faster. This doesn’t meant that the GPU offers 10 times the GPU performance for gaming compared to Maxwell, not even close, we predict.
Volta made it back to the roadmap and currently it looks like the new architecture will be introduced around 2018, or about three years from now.
A new name was not disclosed, however.
“We’re right now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10,” said Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, during a discussion of branding Monday at the firm’s Convergence conference. “We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. And we have to name the thing.”
Microsoft has talked about Spartan before: In January, when the company touted Windows 10′s consumer-oriented features, it officially announced the new browser, dubbing it with the code name. Spartan, executives said then, would be the default Web browser for the new OS, although Internet Explorer will also be bundled with Windows 10, primarily for enterprise legacy requirements.
The clear implication was that Spartan would be tagged with a name different than “Internet Explorer,” or its shorthand, “IE.”
Capossela made that plain Monday when he talked about working up a new moniker.
According to people familiar with Microsoft’s plans, it will not reveal Spartan’s name until May, most likely at Ignite, the conference slated to run May 4-8 in Chicago. Ignite will roll up TechEd with several older, often-smaller meetings, including those that specialized in Exchange and SharePoint.